Of the Name, The Sinne that dwelleth in us, given to Original Sinne.
Of the Combate between the Flesh and Spirit.
ROM. 7. 17.
THis excellent Chapter, which containeth the heart and life of the Doctrine of Original Sinne, so that it may be called the Divine Map thereof, describing all the parts and extents of it, will afford us many testimonies for the confirmation of it.
We therefore proceed to another name that we find here de∣scribed to us in this Text, viz. The sinne that dwelleth in us. The Apostle you heard (as we take for granted) doth here speak in his own person, and so of every regenerate man, that there is a conflict, and a combate between the flesh and the Spirit. In all such there are two Twins strugling in the womb of the soul, which causeth much grief and trouble of heart, which the Apostle doth in a most palpable and experimental manner relate in this passage, vers. 15. That which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that I do not, but what I hate, that I do. Now you must understand this aright, lest it prove a stumbling bl•ck, For,
First, The Apostle speaks not this, as a man meerly convinced, but yet carried away with strong corruptions; This is not to patrocinate those who live in sinnes against their conscience, but have some check and bitter reluctancy sometimes, so that they can say sometimes, I do the things I allow not, yea I hate; When the Apostle, Rom. Chap. 1. and Chap. 2. speaketh of some Heathens, that had their consciences accusing of them, and that they detained the truth in unrighteousnesse, he supposeth, That those who yet never tasted of the power of the Gospel, may have such truth and light in their consciences, that it shall suggest what is to be done, yet love to their lusts will hurry them the contrary way, but as in time is to be shewed, the combate between reason, and the sensitive appetite, is a farre different thing from the conflict between the flesh and the spirit in the godly.
Neither secondly must you understand Paul speaking of gross and foul sins, as if when he said, The evil he would not, that he doth, were to be understood of scandalous and wicked enormities; No, but it is to be interpreted of those motions Page 88 to sinne, and constant infirmities, which cleave to the most holy. Let not there∣fore any prophane person, that customarily walloweth in his impieties, excuse himself with this, It is true, I am such a beast, I do such soul things sometimes, but I may say with Paul, The things that I allow not, yea that I hate, those I do. This is to turn honey into poyson; This is to make the Scripture an incentive to thy impiety; No, Paul, and such as thou art, differ as much as the Sunne and a dunghill; Paul did not mean, the drunkenness, the uncleanness that he would not do, that he did, but he meaneth such corruptions and infirmities that imme∣diately flow from the polluted nature within us, from which we are never through∣ly cleansed in this life.
Thirdly, Neither when the Apostle saith, The good he would, that he doth not, and the evil he would not, that he doth: Is thus to be so understood, as if it were perpetual, and in every particular act, as if sinne had alwayes the better, and grace the worse, as if in no action he did, grace did conquer sinne; for in other places, the godly are said to have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof: As also, That sinne shall not have dominion over them; but sometimes in some temptations they are captivated against their wils.
Fourthly, Neither may you thus understand Paul, when he saith, He would do good, but evil stops him, as if he had only the sluggards will and wish, who would eat, but doth not labour, who would be rich, but yet lets his field be full of briars and thorns, such velleities and incompleat wishes many formal Christi∣ans have; so that such lazy and sluggish desires without efficacious operations are not to shroud themselves under Paul's expression.
Lastly, Therefore Paul's meaning is, That the good which he would do, be can∣not do it perfectly, he cannot do it with that alacrity and fervency, as he would do; Though the flesh do not wholly conquer the spirit, yet it doth stop and hinder it. Therefore Nazianzen calls it the Echineips, the fish that stops the ship that it doth not go so speedily, though it doth not drown it.
In what sense those words, It is not I, but sinne that dwels in me, are to be understood.
THis premised, we may take notice of an inference or conclusion that the A∣postle draweth from this, Now then, it's no more I that do it, but sinne that dwels in me, which he speaketh not as excusing or putting off the blame from him∣self, but to difference and to distinguish these two principles that are within him, the regenerate and unregenerate; So farre as he is regenerate, he doth not do these things, neither are they to be charged upon him, he speaks it to distinguish not excuse; which is the rather to be observed, because of those Carpocrations of old, and Libertines of late, who excuse all their impieties, saying, It is not they that do such things, but the flesh within them, and so make a mock of all sinne: yea some of late have arrived to such horrid blasphemy, as to say, It's not they that do such and such evil actions, but God in them; Neither doth the Apostle lay the fault upon the Devil, it was not his, but the Devil, as many are apt to do, but upon that fountain, and root of all the bitterness in his heart and life, which is original corruption, here described to be the sinne dwelling in him. From whence observe,
That original sinne is an inherent, in-dwelling sinne in us. It is the sinne that sticketh fast to our Natures, and dwels in us.
Some will confess, That there is original imputed sin, but not inherent, where doth the Scripture call it so, say they?
Page 89 But first, They grant original imputed sinne, yet Where doth the Scripture call it imputed sinne?
And secondly, we say, The Scripture cals it inherent in this Text, The sinne that dwelleth in us, that is the same in sense, with the sinne inherent in us. So then, original sinne is the sinne that dwelleth, inheretit and abideth in us. To open thus,
First, Take notice, That there are three kinds of sinnes, as to our purpose, Original, Habitual, and Actual; Actual sinnes are all such which are a trans∣gression of Gods Law, whether by thought, word or deed; for the sinnes of the mind and the heart are actual sinnes, though never committed bodily and externally; Now these actual sinnes, they cannot be called sinnes that dwell in us, for they are transient, and when committed, they are passed away, onely the guilt remaineth, viz. An obligation to eternal wrath; Neither doth the Apostle so much complain in this Chapter of the actings of sinne (though that be part) as the Law of sinne in his members, which is the fountain of all.
In the next place, There are Habitual sinnes, such as are acquired by fre∣quent acts, and daily commissions of sinne; and these indeed must be confessed to be in-dwelling and fixed sinnes in us; and these habits of sinne do much in∣tend, and strengthen our original corruption, making it more vigorous; and if so be that custom be a second nature, how miserable is an unfegerate man, who hath as it were a two-fold nature inclining him to sinne? Original corru∣ption, which is like an innate habit, and custome in sinne, which is like an acquired: So that as the Scripture speaks of some, who are twice dead, so we may say, These are twice alive, in respect of their vigorous propensity to sinne; Therefore the Scripture speaks sometimes of men, that have these double chains of wickedness upon them: Thus when the Apostle, Rom. 3. 10, 11, 12, &c. doth from several places in the Old Testament apply those things which are spoken of men in an high nature flagitious, to every one by nature, that doth comprehend both their innate and acquired impiety, and therefore might well by the Apostle be applied to all, because all by nature would be carried out to such enormous rebellions. The Psalmist, because of original and habitual sinne in some persons, hath a notable expression, Psal. 5. 9. Their inward part is very wickednesse, or wickednesses, as in the Hebrew, Their inward part is nothing but wickednesse. Now although therefore habitual sinnes may truly be called sinnes dwelling in us; yet the Apostle doth not speak here of such habitual sinnes, for he speaks all along of one sinne, as the mother, as the fountain and root of all; And besides, Paul speaking in the person of a regenerate man, could not complain of the acquired habits of sinne within him, for in Regenerati∣on, there is an expulsion of all habitual sinne; and in this sense, Those that are born of God, are said, not to sinne, viz. habitually and customarily, as wicked men do, although some actual sins, and those of a very hainous nature, may consist with the work of grace, yet habites of sinne, and habits of grace can no more consist together, than light and darkness: It is evident then, that the Apostle not mean∣ing habitual sinne, must understand original, in the immediate actings and work∣ings of it, for this will alwayes be a troublesome and molesting inmate; This is not conquered but with the last enemy, death it self.
Why Original Corruption is called, The Inherent or In-dwelling Sinne.
THis premised, Let us consider, why original corruption is called the Inherent and In-dwelling Sinne, and that even in a godly man.
And first, The Apostle cals it, the sinne, (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) Because of the propriety, and proper right it hath to us. As a man is said to dwell in his house, be∣cause he hath a right to it, and it is his own: This original sinne is in every man, as in its proper place, as the stone doth rest in its center, and will not move fur∣ther; So that as hell is said to be the proper place of Judas. He went (saith the Text) to his own place; Thus is the heart and soul of a man, the proper and fit subject for all the natural impiety that cleaveth to us; and therefore, though the Devil be also said, To rule in the hearts of wicked men, he dwels also in them, as well as sinne, for which he is compared to an armed man, keeping the house; yet this is more extrinsecal, and from without; The Devil could not find a room ready swept and garnished for him, but because of this native pollution: Hence the Apostle doth not in this Chapter complain of the Devil, but sin dwel∣ling in him; He doth not say, I would do good, but the Devil hinders me (though that be sometimes true) but sin dwelling in him.
Secondly, This expression of sinne dwelling in a man; denoteth, The quiet and peaceable possession it hath in man by nature, it dwels there, as in its own house, nothing to disturb or molest it: Hence it is, That all things are so quiet in a natural man, there is nothing troubles him; he is not disquieted in his consci∣ence; he feeleth no such burden or weight within him, as Paul here complain∣eth of; so that you would think many civil and natural men in a more holy con∣dition than Paul; They will thank God, They have a good heart, and all is quiet within them; but this is not because original sinne doth not dwell, and live, and work in them, but because they are sensless and stupid, sinne is in its proper place, and so there is no trouble and restlesness in their conscience; Therefore its thy want of experimental discoveries that makes thee question original sinne, other∣wise thy own heart would be in stead of all books to thee in this particular. Indeed in godly men, though sinne dwelleth in them, yet it hath not peaceable possessi∣on, it is as a tyrant in them; Therefore the regenerate part maketh many op∣positions, and great resistances; There is praying, watching and fasting against it; They are as sollicitous to have it quite expelled, as some were to have Christ cast out the Devils from their possessed friends; otherwise in the natural man original sin prevaileth all over, and there is no noise, no opposition, yea great delight, and content there is in subjection thereunto, so that they resist Grace, and the Spirit of God by the Word, which would subdue sinne in them.
So that there is a great difference between the In•dwelling of original sinne in a natural man, and a regenerate; In the former it dwelleth indeed, but as the Je∣busites in Canaan, upon hard terms, as the Gibeonites were in subjection to the Israelites. It is true, Arminius (In Cap. 7. ad Rom. pag. 696.) from this ex∣pression of sinne dwelling in Paul, doth think a firm argument may be drawn, to prove that he discourseth of an unregenerate person, Because (saith he) the word to dwell, doth in its proper signification, and in the use of the Scripture signifie a full and powerfull dominion, and therefore rejecteth that distinction of Peccatum dominans, or regnans, which is said to be in wicked men, and inhabitans, which is in the godly; he would have it called inexistens, not inhabitans: But we have shewed, That sinne is said to dwell in a man, not because of its dominion in a Page 91 godly man, but because of its fixed inseparability, and from this word a servant, who hath no rule in an house, is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 1. Pet. 2. 18.
Thirdly, The word doth denote permanency, and a fixed abode in us; it is not for a night, or year, but our whole life dwelling in us: So that sinne is not in a mans heart, as a pilgrim, as a stranger that is presently to remove, but it hath taken up a fixed abode in us, here it dwels, and here it will dwell, you see our holy A∣postle sadly complaining of this inseparability of it from him, as long as he l•∣veth; Actual sinnes they are committed, and so passe away, yea when pardoned, it is as if they had never been; but original sinne is like Samson's hair, though cut it will grow again, and be as strong as ever, till it be plucked up by the roots.
Fourthly, In this expression is denoted the latency also, and security of it, it dwels in us, and it's called, The Law in our members. The chief actings and stirrings of it are in the inward man; Therefore it is that the natural man, the Pharisaical and hypocritical man know nothing of it; Paul while a Pharisee, and so zealous against grosse sinne, abounding in external obedience, yet knew not lust to be a sinne, neither was he so sensible of such a load and burden with∣in him.
Vse 1. Of Instruction, not to think imputed original sinne, or Adam's actual transgression made ours, to be all the original sin we have: No, you may see there is an in-dwelling sinne, an inherent corruption, from whence floweth all that actual filth which is in our lives. And why is it that we hear no more groaning and labouring under it? Is it not because the spiritual life of grace is not within them? Oh why are all things so still and peaceable within thee! Is it not because sin doth all in thee, and flesh will not fight against flesh?
Vse 2. Why is it that even the most holy are to walk humbly, to go out of themselves, to lay fast hold on Christ and his righteousness, is it not because they have such a treacherous enemy within, that hindereth them in every holy duty? Why also is there such a necessity of watching, praying, of holy fear and trem∣bling? Is not all this because of that secret deceitfull adversary within our own brests?